But as the trilogy progresses, and as Christian and Ana settle into married life, you can't just keep showing them having fights with the same ladders, if you see my point. Not only that, but these are R-rated movies, and to keep your R-rating, there are limitations on the number of ladders, the height of the ladders, and whether you can show them vertically or only horizontally. Metaphorically speaking. Therefore, there's only so much you can do with the ladders. That leaves you ... with plot.
The plot of Fifty Shades Freed, such as it is — and never has "such as it is" been meant with such a deliberate arch of the eyebrow — relies upon both Christian's terrible childhood and Ana's promotion to fiction editor of an independent book publisher that Christian purchased while she was employed there as a jerk's personal assistant. The jerk — named Jack (Eric Johnson) — then became a menace. Surprisingly enough, Jack's motive for hating Christian and Ana is not that Ana became a fiction editor at a publisher and her major contributions, as seen in this film, are finding an author named "Boyce Fox" (could've sworn my accountant worked at Boyce Fox) and increasing a font size by two points.
[Side note: If this is the Fifty Shades theory of what fiction editors are for, much is explained.]
In this third film, Jack is menacing all over the place, so Christian is his usual "overprotective" self, which for him means ordering Ana around, limiting her movements, surveilling her, yelling at her, and — in perhaps the moment that will provoke the most anger from actual practitioners of the sexual habits Christian and Ana enjoy — using his power in their sexual relationship to punish her for perceived slights elsewhere in their personal life. (Pretty sure that's a no-no.) But Christian remains the romantic hero at all times. So the film feels a little bit like Sleeping With The Enemy if Julia Roberts eventually decided that her controlling husband was a pretty good guy who just had a hard life and wanted what was best for her.
It's easy to write off Fifty Shades Freed with the same sneer the books have been subjected to since they appeared, which is to treat it as an inherently hilarious effort to appeal to the prurient interests of square, easily scandalized middle-aged women. (Appealing to the prurient interests of square, easily scandalized middle-aged men is called "premium cable." Ha ha! Just kidding, it's also a lot of basic cable.) There's nothing wrong with erotic literature — or film — for women. There's nothing wrong or surprising about fantasy material for moms or aunts or whatever you want to call it. It just would be nice if it were ... better.
The thing a lot of romance readers know is that this model, in which a virgin meets a worldly, wealthy man who educates her in the ways of her own body, in which she is shocked to find that she enjoys sex, including non-procreative sex, is not new. Fifty Shades is just every story of a roguish duke and a pink-cheeked innocent, translated into a world of hedge-fund managers. It has all the weird traps of that trope, in which sex is treated as the natural territory of men, to which women need introduction. (There's much more about this in a book called Beyond Heaving Bosoms that I commend to you.) And those novels, just like novels in genres like science fiction and mystery, share common elements but vary in quality, depending on how well they're written. Films are the same way.
What's wrong with this movie, and the other movies, and these books, is not that they're shameful or that there's something wrong with or something silly about explicit content. It's just that they're not good. They're not inventively sexy — in fact, the desultory handcuffery early in Fifty Shades Freed feels kind of half-hearted, like the umpteenth time you heard an Olsen twin say "You got it, dude!" on Full House. They tell dumb, half-baked stories about boring people who are lethargically acted. They don't know how to make Christian seem like a human being, so they settle for having him sing and play "Maybe I'm Amazed" on the piano. (The singing is new; if you've seen the other movies, you know he likes to have sex and then play the piano with no shirt on.)
Don't skip these movies because of what they are. Skip them because they're bad at being what they are, and when you don't have plot or ladders? You're no match for Jackie Chan.